Friday, December 30, 2011

Tithing & Blessings

I've had this post swimming around in my head for several weeks now, but I have hesitated to write it.  I'm not sure why.  I guess maybe because this blog has turned into more of a crafty/ creative outlet and less of a bare-your-soul kind of outlet lately.  Maybe because these experiences have been a little too close to my heart.  It's far easier to write about recipes and sewing projects than things that actually mean something to me, but may be a huge joke to someone else.  I've never really been one to "stir the pot" either by bringing up potentially controversial topics like politics or religion.  {Or housekeeping, apparently.}  But I just keep thinking about it -- even at 2:30 in the morning when I really wish I was sleeping.  So, just know that you can take this post with a grain of salt.  Or click away if you would rather not dabble in spirituality for today.  I'll be back tomorrow with some fun New Years Eve snack recipes, if I get my act together.

Many of you may know that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons.  My husband and I have both been members all our lives and we are raising our children the same.  One of the many "weird" things that Mormons do is pay tithing.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept, tithing is the practice of returning a portion of your wealth {usually 10%} back to the spiritual source from whence those blessings come.  We believe that everything we have has been given to us by our Heavenly Father {or God} and that by giving a small portion back to Him we show our gratitude and recognize our dependence on Him as the source of all our blessings.  Tithing is an ancient spiritual tradition that has been practiced by many of the great civilizations in history.  The practice is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  One of my favorite scriptures referencing tithing is Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Years ago I read Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnatch, and she talked about tithing as a metaphysical law of prosperity.  She said, " Spiritual law, no matter which path, tells us as we give, so shall we receive.  We realize that money is a form of energy.  Energy does not increase if it is hoarded.  Energy must circulate freely for power to be released.  When we receive an increase of money in our lives, giving away a portion of that money keeps the channels of abundance circulating freely, as Spirit intended. On a practical level, tithing allows us to express our thanksgiving with action.  Returning some of the material good we receive is a tangible demonstration of trust."  She goes on to say, " My experience with tithing on the Simple Abundance path has been erratic but amazing.  When I tithe, I experience more financial serenity than when I don't.  The money seems to stretch further or my expenses diminish.  When I tithe I am able to save more with ease, and new moneymaking opportunities arrive, often unsolicited.  The floodgates of heaven do shower me with blessings, although I've not yet reached the point at which I can't find room for more.  When I don't tithe, I'm not struck down, but I do start to worry about money.  There seem to be longer stretches between bank deposits and more unexpected expenses, which always end up costing more than the amount my tithe would have been.  So I know it's time to write a check.  Wait and watch what happens.  Very quickly, the ebb recedes and the flow begins again.  Coincidence?"

I've heard stories like that my entire life, and I have always paid tithing even though that has not been my personal experience.  I think there's a lot to be said for doing what you feel to be right without needing a personal reward for your actions.  Paying tithing has increased my faith exponentially, which is as good a blessing as I could ever hope for.  I've mentioned in passing that my husband is out of work right now.  It's fine, really.  That's what we keep telling ourselves.  I mean, except for the no income thing it has been really great having him home.  He lost his job on November 19th, without any form of severance pay.  So there we were, right before the holidays with no job and no insurance.  No way to pay for Christmas and three fantastic kids who were definitely on the nice list and hoping to be rewarded accordingly.  {I'm not begging for sympathy here.  Just setting the stage...} It was at that point that we were faced with one of the most difficult dilemmas of our adult life.  We had Brent's final paycheck.  I had paid the bills that were most pressing and had about $800 left over, which was all we had to our name.  We knew we still needed to pay tithing on that paycheck.  Doing so would take more than half of what we had left, but we felt strongly about it so we turned in a check the following Sunday.  We prayed our hearts out and we were prepared for any possible outcome.  I mean, who were we to say that losing everything wasn't just the experience we needed right now?!  We didn't know, but we were ready to go with the flow, having faith in our Father in Heaven.

Our experiences the past few weeks have been nothing short of miraculous.  I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.  The very next day I started getting orders to make Christmas cards -- almost more than I could handle.  I doubled the lifetime sales in my etsy shop in two weeks.  Within a week cards started to come in the mail from extended family and friends with checks tucked in them.  Everyone said they just felt like they needed to help us out.  We were able to pay our mortgage and the rest of our bills.  A large box of gifts and some cash were mysteriously left on our doorstep.  {Thanks to whoever left it!} We found unbelievable deals on the things our kids wanted for Christmas and had as good a holiday as ever.  We have money in our account to pay our mortgage again next week.  Truly the windows of heaven have been open the past several weeks and we have been blessed abundantly. 

We have discovered that we are far more comfortable being on the giving end of such kindness, but we are learning a tremendous lesson in humility.  We feel so very grateful for the friends and family who have helped us in so many ways and we pray that the Lord will repay your kindness a thousand times over.  I suppose that's why I needed to write this.  So that each of you who helped out will know what a difference you made to us.  We thank you for being instruments in the Lord's hands and being the answer to our prayers.

For more information on Mormons and tithing, click here.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sicky Sick {A Delicious Home Remedy}

It was bound to happen, really.  It's winter and I've been burning the candle at both ends for months.  Last Wednesday night I started feeling a cold coming on.  I thought maybe I could just plow through and will it away.  No such luck.  Here I sit a week later, ears aching, head pounding ... officially sick.  I'm not whining to garner your sympathy.  {Well, not entirely.}  I'm just wishing I had used a home remedy I had seen on Pinterest a while back.

You just eat 1tsp. honey {preferably raw, which is available at most healthy-type stores like Whole Foods} mixed with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon twice a day for three days, beginning at the earliest sign of a cold.  The honey and cinnamon are both said to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.  I used this remedy back in November with great results.  I mixed the honey and cinnamon and spread it on toast, which is delicious, but you can just eat it straight, too. I've read that you shouldn't mix it into hot drinks because the heat kills the positive effects, but I'm no expert here. And I don't drink tea, so ... you know ...   {I highly recommend the toast version!!}

I wish it had not escaped my feeble memory this time around.    I always figure it can't hurt to try a home remedy for a day or so before rushing to the doctor's office if the symptoms are mild.  And cinnamon honey toast is delicious.  I may start eating it just because it's tasty and never get sick again.  Hope that helps somebody!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Neighbor Gifts & My Giftwrap "Tradition"

For years now we have made the same old white chocolate candy cane popcorn to our friends and neighbors.  Don't get me wrong, it is delightful {and I may just have to whip up a batch or two now that I'm thinking about it}, but I wanted to try something new this year.  I've been craving something sweet and spicy lately.  And cream cheesy.  Jalapeños and cream cheese.  That's what I want all the time.  We had jalapeño popper grilled cheese sandwiches the other night {dipped in strawberry jam - mmmmm - don't knock it til you try it} and that only fueled the fire.  So I decided to make hot pepper jelly. You know the stuff that you pour over cream cheese and eat with crackers?  Oh. My. Yummy!  I found this recipe via Pinterest and it was sooooo easy.  Just be sure and read the comments on the recipe if you decide to make it -- I guess it doesn't set up real well if you're not careful. I used one pack of pectin and boiled for 2 minutes and mine turned out perfectly.  Not that I'm bragging -- Whatever.  So this is what we'll be taking around this evening to all our friends.  I hope they're ready to go on this culinary adventure with us.

Now for an awkward transition:  Brent and I were at a "Fugly Christmas Sweater Party" the other night -- and before I go on with the story I have to show you this:
The line for a piece of that man candy forms behind me, ladies!  So, we were at the party and a friend asked me if I was still carrying on my gift-wrapping tradition.  I asked if she was referring to my obsessive compulsive need for all my Christmas presents to match.  Because that is still very much happening around here.  Another friend, who didn't yet know how crazy I can be, requested that I post pictures of this year's wrapping motif here on the blog.  Asae, this is for you:
It's not really anything special, but it looks kinda' pretty, I think.  I used my 1/4  inch metal stamps to stamp the cardstock tags to make them a little bit unique.  We are trying a new thing with our kids' gifts this year -- they are each getting 4 small gifts from me and Brent:  something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  That's why the tags are labeled the way they are, lest you think I've lost my everloving mind.  The kids are super excited about it and it was nice to have a focus as we shopped this year.  I love to have guidelines.  Anyway . . . We're getting really excited about Christmas over here.  I hope you are too!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

A Gift for the Kids' Friends

We're not breaking any new crafting ground here {we rarely do}, but my kids wanted something to take to their friends at school today.  I've seen these reindeer rootbeer bottles a lot and I think they're just really, really cute.  And kids love IBC rootbeer, so, you know, win/win.  Lots of people must have had a similar idea because Walmart was out of brown pipe cleaners yesterday.  Our reindeer are a little bit glitzy.  I would have just done the antlers, googly eyes and noses and tied a ribbon bow around the neck of the bottle, but the kiddos got a little jiggy wit' it.  They were crafting up all kinds of accessories for their reindeer.  I also made these cute little tags for them to attach:
To a DEER Friend
And D gave his reindeer pipe cleaner arms to hold the tags.  See?  Jiggy.  Easy, cheesy.  You can't beat friend gifts for 50 cents each!  {I'm so excited about this being the last day of school.  Hello, sleeping in!}

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Gift for the Friend and/or Neighbor


Alright, it took me longer than I had hoped to get my act together with this post.  I've been seeing cute mason jar soap dispensers all over blogland lately and just desperately wanted some for my house.  There are lots of tutorials out there, but this one was my favorite.

I loved the vintage zinc lids so I found some on ebay that were really affordable. I think I got a lot of 12 old lids for about $6, which is worth it to me to get a much cooler finished product.  I've also seen people spray paint the lids and rings they have on hand a bright, fun color which is really cute, too, if you don't want to bother tracking down the old zinc lids.  Instead of using hot glue to secure the pump in place as the tutorial suggests, I bought a tube of waterproof tub and tile caulk.  I LOVE the way they turned out!  

 And then I thought, "This would make a really cute gift for {some un-named people on my Christmas list}."  I mean, I had twelve zinc lids after all.  I'm thinking you could just give the cute soap dispenser full of sweet smelling hand soap with a little tag that says, "Wishing you a holiday full of Peace, Joy, & Hope SOAP!"  But if you really like someone you could also give them a set of cute dishcloths or handtowels. I already had the hand towels in my bathroom so I made this cute little printable sign to frame and set on the counter next to it.  {We sometimes need a reminder around these parts . . }

That would be a cute little addition to your soapy gift as well.  I couldn't decide what color I liked so I made several options:







You can download these images by clicking on the image to make it full size then right clicking and saving to your computer.  Just print it and pop it in a 5x7 dollar-store frame and you're good to go. I chose the burlap option because it matches my butterfly specimen art that hangs in there, too.  I've also made a tag you can use on your soap dispensers.  Just download the pdf file below and print onto cardstock.
Peace, Joy & Soap

Happy Holidays everyone!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Trees for the Kiddos

I've always had this fantasy about decorating my entire home for Christmas.  I know lots of people do that.  I've read their blogs and I feel a teensy little bit envious of them and their stinkin' perfect homes. {Have you seen Dear Lillie lately?!} I'm feeling lucky just to have a tree up in the living room this year, but I'm really trying to get the rest done.  Being the bargain-loving girl that I am, I have picked up small trees on Clearance after Christmas for my kids' rooms.  I've had big plans, but for the past couple of years my kids have just taken the cast-off ornaments from our big tree and done the best they could decorating their little trees on their own.  And that was kind-of the point in the beginning -- that they would have little trees to decorate themselves so they wouldn't try to "help" mommy with the big one.  But now they I want their trees to have a little more style.  I finally got to work while Brent and I watched movies this weekend and crafted up some cuteness for the kids' trees.  I pinned these great cereal box stars on Pinterest months ago and decided to make some out of printed cardstock.  They couldn't really be any easier and the price is right if you have a stash of scrapbook paper.  So here they are:


For the boys I made the stars and then folded a bunch of paper airplanes out of coordinating printed cardstock.  I also had some silver and white ball ornaments that I hung up with teal polka-dot ribbon.  I love the whimsical vintage-y vibe that it has with the old map paper and polka-dots.  It's not super Christmas-y, but it feels festive and fun and my boys LOVE it.



For Sis I wanted to make something really, really girly.  She has a sparkly pink tree {I know!  Who buys those, right?!  I had a vision.}  and her bedroom is pink so I just really went for it and smothered the thing in pink and silver ornaments.


I made some more of my favorite stars out of pink and white print papers and hung some silver/white and shiny pink ball ornaments with cute girly ribbon.  But the pièce de resistance are these cuppy-cake ornaments inspired by some that I saw on Pinterest a while ago.



Aren't they great?!  So that's what I've been up to.  That and making a kajillion Years in Review for my fun blog friends.  I had no idea people would respond to that so favorably.  It has been really fun "getting to know" some of you as I've made your cards.  You have no idea what a blessing those little jobs have been for my family since my husband is out of work right now.  It's not too late to get one done if you're still considering it.  Just leave me a comment with your e-mail and I'll get right back to you.  Tomorrow I'll be back with a super easy, inexpensive gift you can give to girlfriends, neighbors and/ or coworkers.  

Happy Holidays!


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yeah, We're Movin' On Uuup -- To the Top!

The Jeffersons, anyone?  Anyone?  I'm so excited about something today I'm about to burst!  Take a look around.  Do you notice anything new?  Probably not, but doesn't the place just feel a little more . . . legit today?  Isn't there just a more sophisticated ambiance on this site today?  OK, I'm a total geek.  You'll never notice the difference.  My 3 Monsters is no longer a dot blogspot dot com site -- it's a full-on dot com.  It's its own thing.  I bought the domain a while back and have been pondering what I wanted to do with it.  Here's the thing:  it's like before you have kids and you fall in love with a name so then you have to "call" that name so no one else in the family can use it before you get a chance to.  This little blog is my sweet little baby whom I dote upon daily.  Years ago when I registered with blogger I just used my own name, which seemed logical at the time.  {I didn't know much about the internet back then, really.}  I only dared hope that my family would stop in once in a while to read what I was rambling on about, so using my name seemed like the easiest way to get people to come here.  I could scarcely have imagined that this little baby of a blog would make so many friends -- friends who knew its name, but not mine.  I never predicted it would one day have its own legs to stand on and would need its own identity. For a while now it has bugged me that the name of my blog and the web address didn't match.  It's a dumb thing to waste time worrying about, but sometimes I obsess like that.  I went over to Go Daddy a couple of months ago just to have a peek and see if My3Monsters happened to still be available as a domain.  Lo and behold it was, and it was a mere $15 to secure it for my very own for two whole years.  And so I did.  I couldn't help it.  I just did it.  And then I didn't tell anyone but my husband because it seemed a little silly, a girl like me owning a web domain.  I looked into what it would take to move this baby over to Wordpress and it just seemed like a super troublesome and expensive undertaking.  Besides that, I really like Blogger.  Maybe that's not cool to say, but I do.  So I decided to stay put.  I was perfectly happy to pay my $15 just to "call" my favorite name in case I needed it one day.  But then last night as I was searching for something entirely else on Google I happened upon an article about switching to a unique domain with Blogger and it was SO EASY!  So, that's my long way of saying that absolutely nothing is going to change for you.  If you are bookmarked or linked in anyway to to my blogspot address, you will automatically be redirected here.  Nothing changes for me because I get to keep using Blogger and we can all get on with life.  Except I'm gonna' spend a few more minutes geeking out about being a dot com.  You may pat me on the head and walk away now.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Printables {Freebies!}

I have a little 5x7 frame that sits on the corner of my desk that I decided to use to frame up my favorite quotes or sayings for every season.  I found a couple of quotes about Christmas that I absolutely fell in love with so I made a couple of printables I thought I'd share with you, my blog friends, it being the season of giving and all.  I can't decide which one to put in the frame:




I'm leaning toward the very first one, but the last one is really in the running, too.  I'm loving turquoise and red this Christmas.  Gah!  I just don't know which to choose.  Maybe I'll just have to get another frame at the dollar store so I can do both.  Merry Christmas, friends!


UndertheTableandDreaming

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Gift for the Golf Afficionado

If you are a member of my family you'll probably quickly guess who I may have had in mind when creating this project.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't stop by here often unless his wife makes a point of telling him to, which I hope she will not today, thank you very much.  Do you have someone on your list who is difficult to shop for because they just buy everything they want and need?  So you really have to try hard to think of something they might not have known that they wanted?  The process is pretty hit and miss, but we're always trying to think of that gift that will make this person say, "Hello, lovely.  Where have you been all my life?"  {This person doesn't really talk like that, because that would be ridiculous, but that's the feeling we're going for.}

Back in the spring I remember seeing a series of framed vintage-style prints of famous golfers at Target.  Each had a great quote from the featured golfer.  They were really cool.  They were also overpriced.  And no longer available.  But it seemed like a fun idea to try and recreate for someone who may or may not have a collection of golf memorabilia. 

Here is what I came up with:
That really is a picture of Arnold Palmer.  Cool, huh? Costco will print the 8x10 for about $1.50 {I'm sure most places are about the same} or you could spring for a cool canvas print -- Canvas People is my favorite and they often run a free 8x10 special so you only have to pay shipping.  Just pop the print into a cool frame and you're all set.  I was inclined to embellish the frame a bit, but restrained myself since I think the recipient would  prefer the simplicity of a clean black frame.  For a total cost of less than $10 you can't really go wrong.  And it's the thought that counts, not the price, right?  Remember that, dear family.  The dollar value of your gifts does not represent your value in our lives and in our hearts. 

Thanks for checking in today.  Happy Holiday crafting!


UndertheTableandDreaming

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